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CONTENTS Issue #536
A goodbye - and welcome to a new BioNews team member
Families with monogenic disease
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Welcome to BioNews by email, published by the Progress Educational Trust, providing you with news, comment and reviews on genetics, assisted conception, embryo/stem cell research and related areas. 

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A goodbye - and welcome to a new BioNews team member
30 November 2009 - by Dr Jess Buxton
After almost ten happy years as a BioNews editor, this issue will be my last. I started working for Progress Educational Trust (PET) in February 2000, nearly a year after BioNews was launched by Juliet Tizzard, the first PET director. In my first week, I remember thinking how useful a news digest of developments in the fast-moving areas of genetics and assisted reproduction was - and what a fascinating job it was going to be. But at the same time, I privately wondered whether there would be q... [Read More]
Families with monogenic disease
30 November 2009 - by Rosie Beauchamp
On Wednesday 18th November 2009 a Progress Educational Trust (PET) conference - 'Does Genetics Matter? Help Hype and the New Horizon of Epigenetics' - was held at Clifford Chance in Canary Wharf. The initial session of the day was called 'Families with Monogenetic Disease' and was chaired by Dr Christine Patch, Chair of the British Society for Human Genetics and Consultant Genetic Counsellor and Manager at Guy's Hospital.... [Read More]
Postmortem genetic testing recommended for sudden cardiac death families
30 November 2009 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy
Postmortem genetic testing of people who have suffered sudden unexplained death (SUD) is a more effective and cost-efficient means of identifying genetic abnormalities that place surviving relatives at risk of fatal heart rhythm disturbances, a new study presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, US, suggests.... [Read More]
New EU rules could boost IVF costs
30 November 2009 - by Nisha Satkunarajah
All patients undergoing assisted reproductive treatments may be screened for diseases between each cycle, potentially leading to massive cost implications, under a new interpretation of European Union rules on tissue and cell donation proposed by the European Commission.... [Read More]
Gene variant provides clues to mental illness
30 November 2009 - by Dr Rachael Panizzo
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, have identified a gene that may be involved in mental illness and maintaining brain health. The scientists compared the genes of 2,000 psychiatric patients and 2,000 healthy people in Scotland. They discovered that the ABCA13 gene was faulty more frequently in patients with severe mental illness - such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression - than in the healthy control group.... [Read More]
Gene may have role in protection against bowel cancer
30 November 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard
The GSTP gene, which helps to protect the human body from harmful chemicals such as tobacco smoke, may also play a role in protection against the development of bowel cancer, say UK researchers.... [Read More]
Stress during infancy could alter gene expression in later life
30 November 2009 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
New research into stress in early life has revealed that it can permanently alter specific genes. The work, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, shows that trauma or stress endured in infancy can cause behavioural changes in later life that may lead to psychological disorders, such as depression.... [Read More]
Link between gene variant and brain tumour growth revealed
30 November 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
The link between a certain genetic mutation and the most common form of brain tumour has been unravelled by US scientists. The mutation, in a gene called IDH1, was already known to be associated with the development of brain cancers, but it was not known how the mutation contributed to the disease.... [Read More]
Thousands of genomes sequenced to map Han Chinese genetic variation
30 November 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
The first genetic historical map of the Han Chinese has been published in the American Journal of Human Genetics by scientists from the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS). Based on genome-wide variation in 8,200 individuals, the new map has provided many insights into the evolutionary history and population structure of the Han Chinese which is the largest ethnic population in the world. The map is of great importance as it has helped uncover subtle differences in the genetic ... [Read More]
New genetic links to inflammatory bowel disease
30 November 2009 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy
New genetic studies have identified several key genetic regions which could play a role in ulcerative colitus, a common form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). All three studies were reported in Nature Genetics on 15 November.... [Read More]
Clinic offers repeat IVF cycle in exchange for lifestyle improvements
30 November 2009 - by Nishat Hyder
A central London fertility clinic is offering an IVF treatment package in return for patients signing up to a health and lifestyle improvement programme, which will require patients to stop smoking, drinking, and lose weight if necessary prior to commencing IVF treatment.... [Read More]
Loan from potential buyer will save deCODE from liquidation, says founder
30 November 2009 - by Dr Jay Stone
Dr Kari Stefansson, founder of biopharmaceutical company deCODE genetics, has claimed that the company will be able to continue normal services despite announcing bankruptcy last week.... [Read More]
Correction: Sperm screening needs to be overhauled
30 November 2009 - by BioNews
In BioNews 535, we published a commentary by Wendy Kramer in which she stated that 'using a donor with reciprocal translocations is potentially even more likely to produce sick children than donors with autosomal dominant disorders. The chances for a chromosomally abnormal child are thirty out of thirty-two (Scriven, 1998)'. However, this interpretation is incorrect and potentially misleading, the author of the paper has since informed us.... [Read More]
Stem cell hope for healing premature babies' lungs
30 November 2009 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
Stem cells could someday be used to repair the lungs of premature babies, according to the lead researcher on a study using newborn rats... [Read More]
World Health Organisation recognises infertility as a disease
30 November 2009 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
The World Health Organisation has recognised infertility as a disease in a new international glossary of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) terminology... [Read More]
Book Review: Born and Made - An Ethnography of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
30 November 2009 - by Caroline Gallup
Born and Made - An Ethnography of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis... [Read More]
Event Review: Eugenics - Science Fiction or Future Reality?
30 November 2009 - by Ken MacLeod
The Edinburgh Filmhouse ran its fifth Biomedical Ethics Film Festival from 20-22 November 2009 in partnership with the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics (SHCB), the British Science Association and the ESRC Genomics Forum at Edinburgh University. Its theme was 'Eugenics: Science Fiction or Future Reality?' and its format was film showings followed by comments from a panel leading off a general discussion with the audience. The first day's major film was 'Homo Sapiens 1990', a documentary on ... [Read More]

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